The young British photographer Nick Waplington (born 1965), whose striking and idiosyncratic color images have already won him wide recognition, will have his first one-person museum exhibition in the U.S. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photographs by Nick Waplington: The "Living Room" and "Circles of Civilization" Series will be on view in the Berman Gallery from April 25 through June 28, 1992. Nick Waplington was initially recognized and encouraged by Richard Avedon, who discovered him in a photography class at the Royal Academy of Art in London and compared him to a modern-day Brueghel or Rubens. In his first major project Waplington, of working-class origins himself, set out to record all aspects of the lives of two families living in subsidized housing in Nottingham, England. Subverting the convention of depicting Britain's working class in grim, black-and-white images, he created a visual code all his own with a lush use of color in photographs that resonate with warmth and humor, poignancy and dignity, and a dash of wackiness. Waplington's "Living Room" series, completed between 1987 and 1991, invites viewers into untidy, crowded, noisy lives. We enter the bathroom, the kitchen, the lawn, and, of course, the living room, although ultimately every room becomes a "living room." A review of the "Living Room" series in the Village Voice said, "Such intimate social realism makes you think it must take exceptional people, on both sides of the camera, to achieve such a degree of osmosis." More recently, Waplington's passion for color and scale has carried him into a series of panoramas he calls the "Circles of Civilization." Measuring approximately five feet wide by eighteen inches high, these photographs have a timeless, almost mystical nature. Unlike the explosive, chaotic earlier scenes, the panoramas breathe a subtle, controlled energy. Whereas in "Living Room" the artist is omnipresent yet unseen, in the current ongoing series he becomes part of the subject, cleverly posing, juxtaposing, and superimposing himself beside, against, and on landscapes which range from the deserted beaches of Naples to the icons of Easter Island. Extraordinary and bizarre, these highly orchestrated, almost theatrical, images once again reveal the 27-year-old photographer's remarkable talent. Nick Waplington has been honored with the British and European Kodak Award, 1990 and the European Community Photographic Bursary and Residency in Naples, Italy, 1990/91; and has received a commission from the Gandolfi Foundation Bursary, 1990. This exhibition is accompanied by a book illustrating the "Living Room" series, published by Aperture and supported by the E. T. Harmax Foundation.
Michael E. Hoffman, Executive Director of Aperture Foundation and Adjunct Curator of the Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Aperture Foundation, Burden Gallery, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art